Saturday, December 31, 2011



In these posts I will be interacting with Scripture – making it a conversational walk of faith.

Sometimes we'll be talking with Jesus, sometimes God will be talking to us.

There might even be *guest appearances* by some of our beloved characters from the Bible!

So put on your walking shoes – you know we can all use the exercise!


It's the end of the year, My dear child. I have much to say to you.

"OK sure, Lord," I say a bit distractedly.

I know this has been a very busy time of year. But now, Sharon, be still and listen to Me, the LORD who created and formed you.

I sit down quietly, ready to really pay attention. "Yes, Lord, speak to me."

I know there are many unresolved situations in your life right now, many fearful things that loom, many unanswered questions.

"Yes, Lord, there are many."

Do not be afraid. You must put all of it into this perspective – I have ransomed you, and I have called you BY NAME – by your very own name. You are MINE.

"I am your redeemed and beloved Child."


And because nothing will EVER separate you from My love, these things are true:

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up – the flames will not consume you.

For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One, your Savior.

"Such a wonder-full promise, Lord! I am never alone."

Never. That is why I say, "Do not be afraid" – for I am with you.

"You have promised to never leave me nor forsake me."

I mean that, you know.

And I know your heart. You are My servant. You have chosen to know Me, believe in Me, and you understand that I alone am God. From eternity to eternity I am God.

And you belong to Me. No one can snatch you out of My hand. No one can undo what I have done.

"You are the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent One – the Sovereign Lord above all else."


I am your Holy One, the Creator and King – the only God that has been, and ever will be.

I am the LORD who opened a new way through the waters of the Red Sea. I made a dry path where there was none. I can do the same for you.

"I know, Lord. But there are so many unresolved situations in my life – so many fearful things that loom – so many unanswered questions."

I know.

But forget all that – it is nothing compared to what I am going to do!

"What, Lord? What is it You are going to do?"

I might not resolve every situation. I might not prevent fearful things from
happening. I might not answer all of your questions.

For I am about to do something new in your life. See, I have already begun? Do you not see it?

"Lord, what am I missing?"

It is the work I will do in your heart, Sharon. The inside stuff.

I will make a pathway of hope through the wilderness of discouragement. I will create new rivers of strength in the dry wasteland of despair.

I will give you Living Water in the desert so you can be refreshed.

"Yes, Lord. That is what I need. Green meadows and peaceful streams."


This new year, 2012, is going to be a big year for you and Me.

For I have made you for Myself, and you will honor Me before the whole world.

"I want nothing more, nothing less than that, Lord. I love you – with all my heart, all my mind, all my soul, and all my strength. It really is just You."

You are precious to Me, and I love you.

(Selections from Isaiah 43)

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...HAPPY NEW YEAR!

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Friday, December 30, 2011


Welcome to "Fan the Flame" Friday.

This is a weekly post that will be "short and sweet" (kinda like me...)

Just a word and a phrase, a sentence or a question...just a little something to "fan the flame" of your creativity!

Today's word: resolution

What is a resolution?

What does it take to make - and keep - a resolution?

What is one resolution you have for the new year?

Let me know what you think!!

"This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you…For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:6-7)

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Wednesday, December 28, 2011



God with us.

For some reason, this Christmas I was captivated by this name for Jesus. Enthralled. Enraptured.

It stirred some deep feelings inside of me – a longing, a yearning.

The whole concept of God actually becoming one of usone with us – is really rather staggering. We take for granted the Truth of it – a truth that is mind-boggling, overwhelming, mysterious.

But this Christmas, I was stopped in my tracks thinking about it.

Of course, since God was speaking deeply to my soul, the enemy decided it was the perfect time to assault me.

There was nothing particularly new about this latest round of arrows – nothing uniquely clever, or especially startling. Just a rather steady onslaught of the SAME. OLD. STUFF.

I realized that this is basically how the enemy works. Yes, sometimes he brings out the "big guns" a job lay-off, a death, an illness, a divorce, etc. But more often than not, he's most effective when he goes after us with the steady *drip-drip* of everyday pokes and prods and pinpricks.

I think it's because he realizes that there's a certain risk in the "big ammo" – the risk that huge blows often drive saints to their knees. But, he's discovered that the incessant "gnats" of common aggravations, frustrations, hurts, disappointments, fears often drive saints to distraction.

"If I can't have their souls, at least I can grab their hearts and minds."


How often I let him win that battle…too often.

So, the last couple of days I've felt oddly wistful and lonely. No particular reason, probably seasonal letdown like I talked about on Monday. And yes, I've got some fearful things on the horizon, some unanswered problems, some unresolved situations. A few relationship issues niggling at my heart.

And I'm grappling – where is God with me in all of this?

Because if God is with us, then He's absolutely with us when life doesn't make sense. He is assuredly with us when waiting is distressing. He most definitely is with us when we are hurting…

More often than not, what I really want from God is not just His presence what I really want is His intervention. I want Him to swoop in with answers, and resolution, and measurable miracles. I want Him to make the unhappiness, the confusion, the pain, the anxiety JUST. GO. AWAY.

God with me – I often want that to mean "God make things work."

But God is more than a heavenly handyman – He isn't just Grandpa Fix-It.

Yes, sometimes He does fix things but that happens according to His sovereign will and His good purposes. It does not happen according to my wishes or wants.

This thought occurs to me – why do I want God to be something LESS than He is?

So, Emmanuel has come to me…

Into the dark and lonely "mangers" in my life, into a "land" occupied by enemy thoughts and feelings, into the most unlikely places for a Savior to show up.

He is there.

Even when I'm being "hunted down by Herod" – He offers me solace and escape and peace.

Yes, the Prince of Peace reigns in my heart – Emmanuel.

He has come to answer my deepest cries, and to fulfill my deepest longings – not with answers or resolutions – but with HIS PRESENCE.

Always there, ever near…

He is all I need.

What does the truth of Emmanuel mean to you in your life today?

(Linked with Joan at the GRACE CAFE - come join us as we glorify the King!)

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, December 26, 2011


Christmas Day.

The Aftermath.

Do you feel like I do after a rather frantic pre-lim, followed by a full day of family, fun, and food? (Lots and lots of food??)

A little tired, a little worn out – truth be told, a little let down.

There's so much excitement building up to Christmas Day. There's the decorating and gift-getting, the buying of the tree and hanging of ornaments, the marketing and cooking and baking.

And then, before you know it – The Day arrives.

Eating and talking, eating and opening gifts, eating and watching television, eating and napping – and whatever else your family does traditionally!

But, I always feel a little disappointed when it's all over. Did everyone get along and have a good time? Did everyone get enough to eat? Did everybody like the presents I gave? Did everything measure up to my expectations?

Sometimes, things fall flat – I've had years when sickness stole some of the joy, and when family tension cut into the fun. I've had years when someone didn't receive that special gift, and when the Lakers lost…

I'm chagrined to admit this – but the Norman Rockwell picture I have in my mind of the *perfect* Christmas Day sometimes ends up looking like a Picasso.


This year was quiet and enjoyable. And I was grateful to be able to share the day with my boys and "The Hub."

But, after the day is done, I am wistful and a bit sad. It's ALL. OVER. AND. DONE.

I got to pondering about this…(seems that I like to ponder over a lot of stuff, huh?!)

Wasn't the first Christmas Day like this, too?

The prophets had predicted the coming of the Messiah for centuries. The nation of Israel had suffered under slavery, oppression, conquest, and exile. The Jews had groaned forever, it seemed – as they longed and looked for their Deliverer.

The one who would rescue them from it all.

And then, it's time – and God performed a miracle. He became a human.

Except, for most of the world, most of humanity, The Day was more like any other day. It wasn't ushered in with trumpet blasts and angels surrounding the world in a loud chorus. There weren't crazy earthquakes or darkened skies – there wasn't a coronation, or even a christening.

There was just a manger – and a baby wrapped in cloths.

A letdown.

No hoopla, no hero, no high and mighty king.

Jesus didn't measure up to expectations.

People didn't even know about Him – the HIM, with a capital "H" – for years. And even then, when Jesus began His ministry, most people were angered or disappointed or apathetic.

I take a look at my own life.

Does Jesus disappoint me? Does He let me down?

What about when the casks of water stay water, instead of turning into wine?

What about when the storm is not stilled, and the waves just get bigger and stronger?

What about when the healing doesn't come, or the prodigal doesn't return home, or the net doesn't burst with too many fish to count?

What about then?

Does Jesus disappoint me? Does He let me down?

Truth? – Sometimes He does.

He does when I make Him into my own image. When I try to shape Him and mold Him to make Him fit into my life. When I squeeze Him in among all the "important" things that I do. When I look for something from Him, in my way and my timing.

He does when I neglect to know Him as He really is.

The REAL Jesus is the unpredictable, the surprising, the mysterious – the out-of-the-box Savior.

You see, when it comes to Jesus, you have to know Him really know HIM – underneath the selfish definitions you might come up with. Because He doesn't fit when we compare Him to our expectations.

But when you truly open your heart to JESUS – hold on to your hat!

He's like a heavenly optical illusion.

Look at those swaddling clothsthey're really the robes of a King. The lowly manger was really a throne room. Look closely – baby fingers and toes were one day destined to receive nails for the sins of mankind. Unfocused eyes had once, and would again, behold the glory of the Almighty God the Father face to face.

The promised Messiah had truly arrived. The Deliverer that the world really needed – not just the temporary ruler they were looking for.


You know, the more I think about it, the Aftermath of Christmas Day is what it's all about. Everything that happened AFTER. Like the cross and the resurrection…

And the truth of the matter is this – Jesus really doesn't disappoint. It's me.

Thinking I want more from Him, I settle for less of HIM. Thinking I want to do more for Him, I settle for less of HIM. Thinking I need this and that right now, I settle for less of HIM.

Trying to wrap Jesus up in cloths that I have made to swaddle Him – I end up binding the King.

Oh dear Lord Jesus, how I just want more of You in my heart and life. I do not wish to limit You, I do not wish to fit You into my expectations.

Surprise me, disturb me, challenge me, whittle me.

Make me into something worthy of a King.

How do you handle the aftermath of Christmas Day? Are you letting yourself be disappointed with Jesus?

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Sunday, December 25, 2011


In today's "Bible Pick 'Ems" the Word of God will speak for itself:


Yet a ruler…will come.
And He will stand to lead His flock with the LORD'S strength, in the majesty of the name of His God.
He will be highly honored around the world.
And He will be the source of peace.
(From Micah 5)

For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.
The government will rest on His shoulders.
And He will be called:
Mighty God
Everlasting Father
Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace will never end.
(From Isaiah 9)


The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel, which means "God is with us."
(From Matthew 1)

"Don't be afraid, Mary…for you have found favor with God!
You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.
He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High.
And He will reign…forever; His Kingdom will never end!"
And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born.
She gave birth to her first child, a son.

Glory to God in highest heaven,
And peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.
(From Luke 1 and 2)

So the Word became human and made His home among us.
He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.
And we have seen His glory.
(From John 1)


Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds with great power and glory.
And He will send out his angels to gather His chosen ones from all over the world – from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.
(From Mark 13)

For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God.
Then we will be with the Lord forever.
(From 1 Thessalonians 4)

I am coming soon.
Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown.
(From Revelation 3)

Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds.
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
(From Revelation 22)


Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!
And He who sits on the throne will give them shelter.
They will never again be hungry or thirsty.
For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd.
He will lead them to springs of life-giving water.
And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.
(From Revelation 7)

Praise the name of the Lord!
Praise Him, you who serve the Lord.
Praise the Lord, for He is good.
Your name, O Lord, endures forever!
(From Psalm 135)

AMEN! Come, Lord Jesus!

May the wonder of a starlit night,
The power of our Savior's might,
The glories of His merciful love,
Bring blessings to you from above.

Wishing each of you and yours a very Merry CHRISTmas!

(Linked today with Charlotte at SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, and Joan at SHARING HIS BEAUTY)

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Saturday, December 24, 2011



In these posts I will be interacting with Scripture – making it a conversational walk of faith.

Sometimes we'll be talking with Jesus, sometimes God will be talking to us.

There might even be *guest appearances* by some of our beloved characters from the Bible!

So put on your walking shoes – you know we can all use the exercise!

Today we're going to *walk a few moments* in Mary's shoes:

In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary.

Mary is busy tidying up, when the angel speaks to her:

"Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!"

"Oh! You startled me!" Mary says as she turns around.

Then she sees the majestic, glowing creature standing before her. Her eyes grow wide. She begins to tremble. She grows confused and disturbed.

"What on earth does he mean?" she thinks to herself.

Gabriel senses her feelings.

"Don't be afraid, Mary. You have found favor with God!"

And then Gabriel begins to outline the plan that God had in mind. A secret plan that had been known to Him since before He created the world. A plan for salvation set into motion before the first sin had even occurred.

And now it is time for it to be revealed.

Mary is perplexed.

"But how can this happen?" (Mary knows that she has not slept with Joseph, and she has no intention of changing that arrangement anytime soon!)

Gabriel smiles.

He's spent his lifetime in the presence of God. He knows the God of "impossibilities."

He chuckles to himself as he remembers Elizabeth and Zechariah's reaction to the news that they were going to become pregnant.

Gabriel thinks to himself, "Oh, if they only knew God the way I do."

He puts his hand on Mary's shoulder, and looks deeply into her eyes.

"Mary, the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you."

And when Mary hears this, her fears are calmedeven though all of her questions have not been answered.

When Gabriel leaves, she ponders these things in her heart.

Lord, I feel like Mary.

So often things arrive in my life that confuse and disturb me. I am so often perplexed by my circumstances. Your plans just seem so impossible sometimes.

"Sharon, I have had My plan and purpose for you set in place before you were even born. Won't you believe that it will be accomplished by the Holy Spirit? Won't you let MY power overshadow you?"

Yes, Lord – less of me, more of You.

And even though all of my questions have not been answered, my fears are calmed.

As we approach Christmas Day, let us ponder these things in our hearts.

And let's join Mary in her response:

"I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true."

(From Luke 1:26-38)

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Friday, December 23, 2011


Welcome to "Fan the Flame" Friday.

This is a weekly post that will be "short and sweet" (kinda like me...)

Just a word and a phrase, a sentence or a question...just a little something to "fan the flame" of your creativity!

Today's word: Emmanuel

Emmanuel literally means "God with us."

What does it mean to you to have Emmanuel (God with you) in your life?

Where does Emmanuel need to come and rescue you?

What are the strongholds that still hold you captive?

Let me know what you think!!

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel...

"This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you…For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:6-7)

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


We know the story about the birth of Jesus.

We know the cast of characters.



Jesus (of course!)

Some shepherds.

The wise men.

But there's three other people who played a role in the early, early part of Jesus' life. And I think they each have something to teach us. Who might these souls be?



King Herod.

Let's begin with Simeon. Simeon was an old man living in Jerusalem, who was considered righteous and devout. He had been eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon Simeon, and he had been told that he would not die until he had looked upon the face of the Promised One.

One day, probably a day that began like any other day, Simeon was led of the Spirit to go to the Temple. There he came upon Mary and Joseph, who were there to present baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required.

Simeon recognized the Promise, the Deliverer, the Savior in the eyes of an infant.

Which is quite *something* when you think about it. Did Simeon know ahead of time that the Messiah would be born as a human child? Did he know that the Redeemer would come as a baby? I'm thinking not. But, he had faithand he was ready when faith revealed the Truth.

Listen to his words of praise:

"Sovereign Lord…I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to all the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!" (Luke 2:29-32)

Simeon saw a baby – and he recognized God.

His lesson?

We should anxiously anticipate the coming of the Lord. Yes, the actual coming of the Lord – but also the daily moments when Jesus "just shows up." We must follow close after the Holy Spirit, and be filled with His wisdom, so we will be able to recognize the Lord when He appears.

Because, you see, some of the ways He works in our lives is surprising unexpected situations, unanticipated timing, unusual people and we could miss Him if we're not on the lookout!

Next is Anna.

Anna was also very old(I like that the elderly are involved – makes me excited for old age!). She had lost her husband after only 7 years of marriage, and had lived as a widow until the age of 84! She was a prophet, and she was also at the Temple that day. Actually, Anna was always at the Temple – for she had never left – staying there day and night to worship God with fasting and prayer.

She saw Simeon talking with Mary and Joseph – and she immediately began praising God. She eagerly talked to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.

Anna saw a baby – and she recognized God.

Her lesson?

Anna had pursued Truth for years, and had led a disciplined life of faith. We must do the same. Spiritual pursuitsreading the Word, prayer, corporate worship – all are necessary to the life of faith. We must draw close to God in order to be ready when He reveals His purposes, His opportunities, His timing.

Like Simeon, Anna was on the lookout for the Savior. And when He came along, she was ready to spread the word. We should be like that, too – eager to tell everyone we can that the Redeemer of the world has arrived. Rescue is here!

Finally, King Herod.

Herod, the king of the Jews, had heard the rumors, I'm sure. And when the wise men showed up at his doorstep, asking where to find the new-born king of the Jews, he grew furious! Deeply disturbed, he did what many politicians do when there's a crisis he called a meeting.

It's interesting that Matthew 2:3 says that everyone in Jerusalem was disturbed – the meeting took place with the leading priests and teachers of religious law. Already, Jesus was stirring up controversy.

Herod tried to kill Jesus – sacrificing the lives of many young boys. But, warned by an angel, Joseph fled with his wife and son to Egypt.

There is an interesting parallel between this flight to Egypt and Israel's history. As an infant nation, Israel went to Egypt, just as Jesus did as a young child. God led Israel out through His deliverer, Moses – just as God would lead sinners out from slavery through THE Deliverer, Jesus.

Herod heard about a baby – and he feared God.

His lesson?

Jesus makes the devil very, very angry.

I wonder what he felt the day that he realized that the Son of God wasn't walking around heaven anymore. Did he wonder where Jesus went? What was his reaction when he realized the secret plan of God? I imagine that he was appalled at the audacity of God. Becoming human? How dare He??

And so, his pursuit began. I'm sure he prodded Herod toward his evil plan. It sounds like our enemytrying to kill a baby. When he was unsuccessful, I can only imagine the overriding strategy of Satan and his minions – STOP JESUS, at any cost!

Friends, when Jesus arrives in our lives – when we invite Him into our hearts – we can be sure that we will make the enemy very, very angry. Because, he sees Jesus in our hearts – his hated foe. And he will do everything in his power to STOP JESUS, at any cost – which means he will do his best to stop us.

Stop us from being productive, or joyful, or strong, or thankful. He’ll try to thwart us from spreading the word. He'll attempt to drive us to doubt, or discouragement, or despair. He'll tempt us and test us and try us and turn us against Jesus...

If he can.

But, we can take these good lessons to heart…

Look for the daily moments when Jesus "just shows up."

Follow the Holy Spirit closely.

Be filled with His wisdom, so we can recognize Jesus in surprising and unexpected ways.

Lead a disciplined life of faith.

Draw close to God.

Be ready for His purposes, His opportunities, and His timing.

Spread the word about Jesus and His Good News.

Expect to make the enemy angry.

But, never ever give up – seek always, with the Lord’s help, to be productive, joyful, strong, and thankful.

Do not give in to doubt, discouragement, or despair.

Stand firm against tempting and testing and trying circumstances.

For, dear friends, we serve a very special baby – a baby who became the King.

A baby who is our Risen King – forever!

What does the birth of Jesus teach you about your life?

(I am linked today with Joan at the GRACE CAFE. Please join us!)

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, December 19, 2011


Weary, hungry, desperate, in pain –

Those words probably sum up how Mary and Joseph were feeling as they searched for a place to stay in Bethlehem.

There was no room.

Except…for one small and dark place, a manger.

I can remember an incident like this in my life. Many years ago, my family took a road trip to Yellowstone National Park. Then we snaked through Idaho and Oregon, and finally returned home, traveling down the length of California. The previous year we had taken a loooonnnggg trek – 5,445 miles in 9 days. This year, trying to find a way to "top" that trip, we decided that we wouldn't book any motels ahead of time.

It was going to be a "fly by the seat of your pants" adventure.

Well, it worked out well for the most part. Except for one very long day. We'd been on the road for hours (not like 4 or 5, more like 10 or 12) – and we just wanted to stop. Finally we arrived in a town in the middle of Idaho.

Driving around street after street, all we saw were neon red "NO VACANCY" signs. It got discouraging – and then despair set in as we contemplated sleeping in the car.

Finally, we found a hotel that still said "VACANCY." It was like 1:30 AM now, and I'm sure the proprietor loved being woken up at that time! Yes, he had only one room available. But, there was a hitch. It was the "Whirlpool Suite"$$$. However, after some discussion (haggling and bullying), he agreed to give it to us at the price of a regular room.

Let me tell you, at this point I would have settled for the "Toilet Bowl" room – I was exhausted.

So, the four of us piled into that room with one queen bed – and a whirlpool in the corner. Tired and sore little feet soaked in the tub – and finally one father and two sons shared the bed, while Mom slept in a chaise chair.

It wasn't the most luxurious room I've ever been in – but it may have been the one that I was the most grateful for.

So, Mary and Joseph finally arrive at their pre-ordained destination – and the Savior is born.

I ponder this…

Isn't Jesus still looking for room at the inn?

Isn't He still knocking on the doors to hearts?

How often is He being greeted with the sign, "NO VACANCY"?

How many 5-star hearts with their wealth, and fancy lifestyles – say to Him, "Oh, sorry, sir – there's no room for you here. And to tell you the truth, you just wouldn't fit in anyway."

What about those AAA-rated 2 or 3 star places? With their frantic career-making, child-raising, middle-class lifestyles. Do they say to Him, "Oh, sorry, buddy – haven't had time to fix up a room for you."

How many times does Jesus come to person after person, only to be rejected by the sad and sorry words, "No room."

To so many He is nothing more than a vagrant – an inconvenience, an embarrassment, a pest. He doesn't belong in the "beautiful surroundings" of many lives. He doesn't fit into busy schedules and self-important goals. He isn't appealing to the plush and poshy people of pretensions.

It occurs to me that Jesus was not meant to come to the comfortable.

He came for those who are like Mary and Joseph – weary, hungry, desperate, in pain.

He comes to the humble places. The dark corners that no one ever thinks about, or that they frantically try to hide – from others and from themselves.

The heart is like a manger.

Secret, secluded, sometimes lonely and dirty.

Jesus wants to come there.

"Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in…" (Revelation 3:20)

We have to hear the knocking, we have to open the door.

This is true of all people.

Some need to open the door to salvation. We believers have to open the door to sanctification.

We have to put ourselves aside for Jesus to arrive and abide in our hearts.

Oh, dear Lord, yes – there is room…

What will you say to Jesus when He comes knocking? Are you open for business?

(I am linked today with Joan - just "SHARING HIS BEAUTY")

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Sunday, December 18, 2011

BIBLE PICK 'EMS - End of Story

Jesus, the Savior is born.

Though the world did not know it, a new world order had begun. A brand new King had come to usher in God's Kingdom.

Nothing would ever be the same again.

In many ways, this was the beginning of life.

Yes, God created the heavens and the earth, and everything in it. That was the beginning beginning. The very first spark of life. The generation of all that is.

But the word *beginning* goes beyond that.

I love these words – commencement, opening, launch, foundation, establishment, inauguration.

Baby Jesus – the Beginning of Life.

But how does the story end?

Today's "Bible Pick 'Ems" is found in Daniel, and it prophesies the ending:

"I watched as thrones were put in place and the Ancient One sat down to judge.
His clothing was as white as snow, his hair like purest wool.
He sat on a fiery throne with wheels of blazing fire, and a river of fire was pouring out, flowing from his presence.
Millions of angels ministered to him; many millions stood to attend him.
Then the court began its session, and the books were opened." (Daniel 7:9-10)

The first thing that occurred to me as I read this passage was the vision of all the angels. Those are the very same angels who watched with bated breath as Jesus, the eternal Son of God, was born into humanity.

Can you even imagine the hush that fell over the heavens at that moment?

Especially Gabriel.

The one who had been given the privilege of telling Mary about the secret plan of God.

I'm sure he hovered close by during the entire pregnancy, during the long trip to Bethlehem, during Mary's labor, and during the actual birth. Did he breathe a sigh of relief when Jesus was delivered safely?

And then, did his eyes grow as big as saucers as he looked at the miracle of God Incarnate – a baby with his Master’s eyes?


And yet, it was the moment that the angels were given their marching orders. War had begun on a level never before seen. The enemy was very, very angry. Spiritual conflict took on new meaning. I can see Gabriel turn to the angelic host and cry out, "Brethren, to arms!"

We who believe in the Savior – including the ones that came before us, and the ones who will follow us – have joined them in the fight.

We fight until the day when Daniel's vision comes true.

And it will come true – God has promised.

There is a court date on the calendar for every person, every nation, every authority in heaven and on earth. At the end of all time, there will be judgment.

"Then the court began its session…"

Can you imagine the hush that will fall over the heavens at this moment?

"…and the books were opened."

I'll bet not even a pin dropping would make a noise.

The end of the beginning, and the beginning of the end commences.

Daniel continues, "I saw someone like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence. He was given authority, honor, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal – it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed." (Daniel 7:13-14)

(I just have to interject a holy WOO HOO here! OK, I feel better now…)

Today's "Bible Pick 'Ems" is like the period at the end of a sentence. A sentence that began this way, "She gave birth to her first child, a son" (Luke 2:7) – and ends with these words, "And the books were opened, including the Book of Life…Nothing evil will be allowed to enter…but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life." (Revelation 20:12; 21:27)

Yes, the beginning of the story began with a hush – and yet, in a nondescript manger war was declared.

But, one day the story will end – and the Son of God will reign.

I can only imagine the thunderous sound of saved souls and the heavenly host joined together in praise, worship, celebration, triumph…



What does the birth of Jesus mean to you – both now and in the future?

(Today I am linked with Charlotte at SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS)

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Saturday, December 17, 2011



In these posts I will be interacting with Scripture – making it a conversational walk of faith.

Sometimes we'll be talking with Jesus, sometimes God will be talking to us.

There might even be *guest appearances* by some of our beloved characters from the Bible!

So put on your walking shoes – you know we can all use the exercise!

Moses has a talk with me:

Sharon, I have told you the commands and regulations that the LORD our God has told me to teach you.

You are about to enter a new year, 2012, and it's important that you obey them.

The LORD has new territory awaiting you – He is opening up new doors of opportunity.

So, listen closely, Sharon, and be careful to obey.

Moses, I sense the LORD moving in new directions. I want nothing more than to hear what His purposes are for me.

Good! The most important thing to remember is the LORD is our God, yours and mine. And He is the only true God.

Yes, so much false teaching out there, Moses. So many people saying that there are many roads to God, many roads to heaven.

Ah, yes. But there is only the road of salvation through Jesus Christ. Only God's way to the Promised Land.

So, how do I obey Him?

First things first.

Love the LORD your God with all of your heart…

All of my loyalty, my feelings, my desires…

And all of your soul…

All of my thoughts, my character, and my innermost being, the core of who I am…

And all of your strength…

All of my patience, endurance, perseverance…

And you must commit yourself wholeheartedly to Him. Repeat His commands and promises again and again.

Talk about them – when you're at home and when you're out and about. When you are going to bed and when you are getting up.

Yes, Moses – at all times, I will remember the words of God.

Fear the LORD your God and serve Him. Be diligent. Do what is right and good in His sight.

Fear the LORD, and He will continue to bless you and preserve you.

I will fear the LORD, for those who fear Him will have all they need.

God has promised the crown of life to those who love Him.

Oh, how I love Him…

(From Deuteronomy 6, Psalms 34, and James 1)

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Friday, December 16, 2011


Welcome to "Fan the Flame" Friday.

This is a weekly post that will be "short and sweet" (kinda like me...)

Just a word and a phrase, a sentence or a question...just a little something to "fan the flame" of your creativity!

Today's word: revolt

What does the word revolt mean to you?

How was the birth of Jesus a revolt against the world's status quo?

How was it a revolt against the devil?

It what ways has the Savior, the Prince of Peace, caused a revolution in your heart?

Let me know what you think!!

"This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you…For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:6-7)

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I am in love with a renegade.

A maverick.

An outlaw.

Yes, I love "The Hub" dearly – and he would undoubtedly fill those categories. We tease him all the time that he should have been born in 1854. He's a whole lot of Jeremiah Johnson (the consummate mountain man), a touch of Butch Cassidy, with a liberal sprinkling of Virgil Earp in there…

But he's not the one I'm talking about.

I'm talking about Jesus.

I just finished reading a wonderful book (in my humble opinion) called "Beautiful Outlaw" by John Eldredge.

Eldredge talks about the very real Jesus that we encounter in the Gospels. Let me tell you, THAT Jesus is not the Jesus that the world thinks they know. Eldredge subtitles his book, "Experiencing the playful, disruptive, extravagant personality of Jesus."

Doesn't that sound delicious?

You know, to me, if you don't know the true Person of Jesus, then the real meaning of the Incarnation kinda fades. It will become just a nice picture of a cherubic baby who came into the world, meek and mild – only to grow up into a Jesus who was a kind and gentle man, who sweetly taught people "good lessons."

If you don't know the true Person of Jesus, you only know a two-dimensional cardboard imitation of the real thing.

Listen to what Eldredge says:

"Reading the Gospels without knowing the personality of Jesus is like watching television with the sound turned off."

Yeah, Jesus on mute.

This book has me pondering…especially at this time of year.

Exactly WHO was born in that manger??

Not a wimp, that's for sure. Not someone boring. Not someone easy.

If you read the Gospels, Jesus is someone wonderful. He is exciting and unpredictable. He hates the status quo. He angers the "religious" and loves sinners. He is sometimes clever, sometimes sarcastic. He is always intelligent. He doesn't fit into any stereotype.

He is dynamic and charismatic – and quite honestly, a bit unmanageable.

I like that in a Savior, don't you?


I have lately been gripped by a new fervor for the Person of Jesus – it's overtaking me. I have been captured by the Son of God – real, uncontainable, thrilling.

I am reminded of a scene in the book "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" (from C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia). One of the children, Lucy, has never met Aslan (the Lion who is Jesus). Listen to this conversation:

"Is he – quite safe?" [asks Lucy].

"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver. "Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good."

Later, Mr. Beaver also says this: "He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion."

You know, I love a rodent who speaks the truth!

So, you see, as I think about that baby in the manger, I'm taking a new look at exactly what happened there, and exactly who was born. Yes, it happened quietly, only in the presence of Mary and Joseph, in an obscure and lonely, dirty and dingy place.

But oh! God might as well have hurled a cosmic thunderbolt to earth!

A comet of salvation slammed into earth that moment, and life would never be the same again. The dark and lonely world had been struck with the Lord of Light, and Satan's kingdom had been invaded. Look out – the Almighty Son of God took His first breath, and Life itself began!

I'm sure the heavens shook.

It just gives me goosebumps.

Now, the enemy does his best to keep the real Person of Jesus hidden from us. The enemy tries to convince us that Jesus is weak, uncaring, restrictive – or worse yet, totally irrelevant.

No, no, no.

I will not listen to those particular lies.

The Jesus who was born in the manger came to upend the world's value system. He came to revolutionize the human heart. He came to love mankind in an impossibly sacrificial way.

He came to turn ME inside out – to interrupt MY agenda, to challenge MY goals, to disturb MY comfort – to shape and mold and prune and knead.

He came to give me HIS life.

I don't know about you, but THAT'S the Jesus I love and want to follow.

The Jesus who was born in the manger is a hero…

Do you know the REAL Jesus deep in your heart? Has He lit your life on fire?

(I would also recommend this book, along the same lines: "The Jesus I Never Knew" by Philip Yancey. Of course, there is no better place to meet the real Jesus than in the pages of God's Word.)

It's time for Joan's GRACE CAFE - come on over and join us!

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, December 12, 2011



Jesus was a human being.

I remember talking to my boys about the mysterious reality of Jesus being fully God, and fully human. I remember talking to them about how impossibly wonderful it was that Jesus descended to earth - how He willingly gave up His rights as God to become one of us.

How He entered into mortal cells and a dying body.

How He felt everything we feel, went through the same experiences - how He got hungry and had to eat, how He got sad and had to cry, how He felt happy and had to laugh.

I remember those boys letting that sink in.

I'll never forget one time though when one of them asked, "Did Jesus have to go to the bathroom?" (I'm sorry - I had boys...)

My first inclination was to reprimand the question. But then I realized that it wasn't said in sarcasm. My son was sincere - he really wanted to know. Did Jesus really and truly feel EVERYTHING I do?

I remember letting that sink into my thinking.

"Well, yes," I answered. "Jesus went to the bathroom."

I'm pondering that thought anew today. Well, not the *bathroom* part of it - but the real human part of it. The part that I think I've taken for granted - that Jesus really DID feel it all - every aspect of being human.

He was just like you and me.

Well, yes and no.

For one thing, we have never known anything else but corrupted humanity. A humanity that is victimized by sin, and under the curse of death. A body that gets hungry and thirsty, that needs to eat and drink to stay alive. A body that gets sick, feels pain, grows weary, and must sleep.

Jesus entered into that whole mess.

What was it like to be a Person who had always existed to have to suddenly become mortal - subject to all the infirmities of humanity? What was it like to feel pain in a Body that had never before felt anything like it? What was it like to have to do things to stay alive? What did sleeping and eating and being sick feel like?

I've had a lot of physical pain in the last two months, and I am newly appreciating the fact that Jesus felt body pain, too. And it was physical pain - a weary body and aching joints and a headache, a stomachache, sore feet - pain He had never before had to feel. He got cold and hot and shivery and sweaty. Did He have nightmares?

I wonder about these things.

(And for the record, I think about the good stuff too - dancing and running and jumping - petting animals, climbing a tree, giving a hug - stuff like that - what did Jesus think about all that?!).

I guess I've just never really taken the time to really think what it was like for Jesus to come into this world as a human being - to think how much He had to feel for the VERY FIRST TIME.

He could have come as God - (He did, but you know what I mean...) The burning bush seemed pretty effective. And the fireworks on Mt. Sinai got everyone's attention. So, He probably didn't need to take on human form to bring a message to us. But you see, He had to come as a human being because He was the only human being ever born to die.

"Because God's children are human beings - made of flesh and blood - the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying." (Hebrews 2:14-15, emphasis mine)

Boy, let that sink in.

He became a human so He could die.


Now, the other thing that strikes me about Jesus is this - He probably could have just appeared as a human being, all fully grown at about 30 years old. He could have entered humanity as an adult. But He didn't...

In an absolutely incredible act of humility - He became a cell, an embryo, a fetus, a baby who was born. This boggles my mind.

And sometimes I wonder about this - I don't have any memories before the age of about 4. It occurs to me that those early years belong to my mom. They are HER memories of me, apart from the ME that I know. Did Jesus remember His earliest years? Or did those years belong to Mary alone? Perhaps those days were in her thoughts when the Bible says that she pondered things in her heart.

And, being a mother, I wonder this - because no matter how old our children get, they are still our babies, aren't they? Did Mary see her baby up on that cross?

Friends, these are just random ramblings and ponderings that I've been having about the very real humanity of Jesus.

He was born to feel the limitations and pains of being human...for the first time. He had to take care of His body...for the first time. He felt new sensations - some pleasant, some horrible...for the first time.

He was a mother's baby, toddler, child, teenager - someone's older brother, someone's friend.

He was real.

And He can relate to us in every aspect of our humanity because He chose to feel it all. From birth to death. In a strictly human sense, He was also the Alpha and the Omega - He lived from beginning to end.

I am captivated by Jesus.

God Incarnate.


The One who became like me to understand me...

...the One who became like me to save me.

"The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we're telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us." (From 1 John 1:1-2, MSG)

"[Jesus] had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death..." (From Philippians 2:5-8, MSG)

So, what do you ponder about the humanity of Jesus?

Won't you join me and visit Joan at "SHARING HIS BEAUTY"!!

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Sunday, December 11, 2011

BIBLE PICK 'EMS - In the Middle of the Night

It's dark.

It's 2:00 AM.

I can't sleep.

There are so many thoughts, so many feelings, reeling around in my head right now.

I'm scared – I feel alone.

Oh Lord, I need to feel Your presence. I need Your peace. I need to rest. Please speak to me.

This is how I felt one night last week. Every now and then, I get a night of insomnia. Sometimes I fall asleep OK, but then I wake up later and can't get back to sleep. But, more often than not, I just can't fall asleep in the first place. I can't shut off the turmoil in my mind. I can't calm my nerves, and worries assault me.

I get panicky as I see the minutes, and then the hours, crawl by. It's so easy to feel vulnerable and small at these times.

So, I did an *emergency* "Bible Pick 'Ems."

I opened my Bible, and found myself in the beginning of 1 Kings 5 (my "Bible Pick 'Ems"policy is to read only the two pages I have turned to, by the way). So, I'm thinking to myself: "OK, Lord, I trust that You have something here for me. But I'm in 1 Kings, Lord. I think You've got your work cut out for you!"

And sure enough, as I started reading, there was a listing of the governors who served under Solomon, and a geographical account of his kingdom's boundaries. Oh, and a rousing shopping list of the daily food requirements for the palace. And a rather glowing report of all of Solomon's great accomplishments.

So, NOW I'm thinking to myself, "OK, Lord, this isn't really helping me much here."

He said, "Keep reading."

And then, all of a sudden, there it was. JUST what I needed to hear:

"But now the LORD my God has given me peace on every side; I have no enemies, and all is well." (1 Kings 5:4)

I cried.

Yes, if you want to be technical, Solomon relayed these words in a message to King Hiram of Tyre. It was Solomon's way of letting Hiram know that his father, David's, work of war and conquest was finished. David had been unable to build "until the LORD gave him victory over all his enemies" (verse 3). Solomon is telling Hiram that there is peace in the land – and now it's time to get started on a certain little Temple-building project!

That is the context of today's verse – and I am not diminishing the very real necessity of reading Scripture in context. The Word of God should not be twisted or misconstruedjust because we want to fit a square peg into a round hole that suits us better.

However, it is the WORD of God.

And I fully believe that God can use it to speak to a very real need at a very certain time. And, at 2:00 in the morning, this verse washed over me like a lullaby. I was overcome by the faithfulness and mercy of Goda Father who would lead me to those completely calming words – right smack dab in the middle of 1 Kings.

Instantly soothed, I began to think about them.

Word by word, here's how it spoke to my very weary heart:

BUT – (in spite of the thoughts and feelings reeling around in my head, God had something ELSE to say to me)

NOW – (not tomorrow, but NOW, at 2:00 AM)

THE LORD MY GOD – (the One and Only LORD, who is MY God)

HAS GIVEN ME PEACE – (serenity, calm, stillness, quiet, tranquility)

ON EVERY SIDE – (peace with Himself through His Son Jesus Christ, and peace in every circumstance through the power of His Holy Spirit)

I HAVE NO ENEMIES – (if God is for me, who can ever be against me?)

AND ALL IS WELL – (God is still on His throne, He is still in control – now, and for eternity, it is well with my soul)

Yes, the perfect words, at just the perfect time.

I turned over and fell quickly asleep – for I rested in the shadow of His wings.

He is so good to me.

How I love Him…

"I lay down and slept…for the LORD was watching over me." (Psalms 3:5)

"In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O LORD, will keep me safe." (Psalms 4:8)

"…the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he…never slumbers or sleeps. The LORD himself watches over you!" (Psalms 121:3-5)

How has the Lord spoken to you with just the right words, at just the right time?

"When in doubt, search God out!"